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Year : 2007  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 122

Integrating Public Health and Medicine: First Steps in a New Curriculum

School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, NSW, Australia

Correspondence Address:
A Klinken Whelan
SPHCM, UNSW, Kensington, NSW 2052
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 18080962

Context: Recent outbreaks of infectious diseases and humanitarian crises highlight the need for an understanding of public health issues in medical progams. However, public health teaching is perceived as peripheral in current Australian university medical programs. Objective: To integrate public health into clinical and biomedical teaching throughout the new medicine program at the University of NSW. Methods: The medicine program has been designed with three phases and with clinical experiences introduced early in the program. The approach is to trigger learning with scenarios and with vertical integration to reinforce lifelong learning. Public health teaching and understanding has been integrated into all the scenarios. Discussion: As the program is only in its 4th year, there has been no summative evaluation of the impact of this approach. However, formative evaluation through Phase 1 student portfolios has demonstrated a good understanding of public health concepts in the satisfactory way students have addressed one of the eight graduate capabilities: Social and Cultural Aspects of Health and Disease. Another indicator of an appreciation of public health issues in medicine has been the choice of social and cultural topics in students' independent learning projects. Conclusion: Summative evaluation will occur when the University's new program graduates work in the existing health care system. It is proposed that they will be followed up to see whether they apply the public health values in their practice.

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